St Paul Ski Club
St Paul, MN
I had to go digging in the photo archives of a *gasp* photo album for this story – and it was a trip!
This story is one about friendship and community. I think most of us who are, and have been, in the ski jumping world know the tight-knit community and friendships that come with it. My brain is a little foggy when it comes to recalling how it happened almost *twenty* (cue I’m feeling old) years ago but, it was almost certainly because there was another girl at the ski jumps who was my age. Elisabeth Anderson and I were friendly competitors but soon our friendship grew.
The Andersons, and many other Eau Claire skiers, would make the trip to St. Paul weekly to train in the summer (before they had plastic) and were regulars at our Friday night tournaments in the winter. It wasn’t long before we were inseparable. Connected at the hip, as some of our teammates would call it. We always looked forward to weekend tournaments in the winter where we would reconnect after a long week of school. Before long, we were traveling across the country together.
We spent our first big summer of training in Park City, Utah when we were 15. We couldn’t even drive yet…but we made it work. Our parents were there with us for much of the trip – but they did leave us to our own devices for a WHOLE week. Pawning rides from teammates and coaches and making our trips to the grocery store via one of us biking and towing the other on her rollerblades. I don’t quite remember how we made it back, but we did, surprisingly unscathed. Several summers followed living and training together in Steamboat Springs, Colorado enjoying many more exciting adventures.
Between the miles traveled and places visited the depth of our friendship starting feeling more like family. As the years went by, we went to college, met our husbands, got married, and started families – and have had each other by our sides through many of our biggest (and smallest) moments. Traveling to see each other, running races, and intentionally planning time together. Even though we live hundreds of miles apart we still maintain our virtual coffee dates and continue to connect and enjoy what we have become from those 7th grade girls who met at the ski jump.
In the end, ski jumping has given me so much more than an athletic talent, travel, and experiences. It has given me my best friend, unforgettable memories, and many other people that have shown up in my life – even after the skis were retired.